WESTLOCK — The Westlock Thunderbirds’ quest for their first win of 2022 will continue following a tough 56-27 loss to the provincially-ranked Breton Cougars at the Thursday Night Lights game Oct. 6.
Although the club now sits at 0-4 in the Alberta 6-A-Side Football League following September defeats to Buck Mountain, Hinton and Rimbey, coach Travis Darling said they continue to take strides forward.
“We’ve had the joy of playing Top 5 provincially ranked teams for the first four weeks and Breton is a Top 5 team,” said Darling. “But I’m proud of the kids. We’re learning a lot and we have to keep building on us each week. That’s the biggest key.”
In the Oct. 6 tilt, the clubs were tied 6-6 after the first quarter but Breton took a 33-13 lead into the half and continued their strong possession game in the third and fourth quarters.
“Unfortunately, the second half of this game got away from us a little bit and the first half was determined by three plays,” said Darling. “If we capitalized getting a key third down, they don’t run the next play and that was a run for a touchdown.”
Despite the final score, Darling noted the team is “coming together” and had nothing but praise for his players, their progress and effort.
“We have plays that we couldn’t run three weeks ago that we’re running now. Our quarterback has more confidence to run the ball himself, our special teams is much better and that resulted in an early kickoff return and touchdown,” he said.
Thursday Night Lights
Thursday Night Lights was more than just a football game and included face painting and a scavenger hunt sponsored by CONEX Westlock, along with a pep rally, concession stand and a half-time show featuring a performance by ‘Queen.’
“We’re a privileged team in this league, having six-man (football), what we’re able to do and have nights like this as well,” said Darling.
Going forward, Darling said their next three games are crucial and will determine their postseason fate. The club’s next home game is Oct. 21 when they welcome the Frank Maddock High School Warriors from Drayton Valley.
“The key now is dialing in for the next three weeks and turning these results around and putting our best foot forward,” said Darling. “The kids are doing the work and at the end of the day that’s all I can ask for.”